Australia’s high rate of urbanisation means that most people experience a significant disconnect between their food production and consumption. Over several decades, suburban gardens have ceased to be major sites of food production and Australians reportedly have a declining understanding and appreciation of how their food is grown. Recent years have seen a renewed interest in the quality, provenance, freshness and price of food, driving a companion interest in Australians growing their own food at home or in community gardens.
This paper examines who is currently growing their own food, the motivations and barriers in relation to home and community gardening and the potential for home grown food to deliver benefits such as health and social inclusion improvements and to protect food security. The research is based on a literature review, a survey of 1,390 households across Australia and interviews with experts and community gardeners.
The data suggest that more than half (52 per cent) of all Australian households are growing some of their own food and a further 13 per cent report they intend to start. Yet despite this high penetration of food gardening, yields are relatively low and there is a high turnover of participation. Health, taste and cost savings are the greatest drivers for households to grow their own food.